It's a creekmore world

Week #8: Making cancer a family adventure

Bad-ass girls on the first peak.
Last time Trish had cancer, we had an epiphany during a particularly dark moment.

We wanted to travel the globe with our daughters if Trish got better.

And she did.  And we went.

In 2007 we spent a month in Paris and Kiev (not blogged, unfortunately). A year ago this month, we were in the Middle East on an epic 4 week trip. We followed up with 2.5 weeks in the Yucatan over Christmas, and then Italy over Easter for 2 weeks.

(For new readers following Trish’s cancer, our blog is actually a travel blog hijacked by cancer. Take a look at our travel stuff too. We blog live, daily on the road, capturing the fun and mishaps of a family travelling to exotic places.)

The erie exit from Zedikiah's cave, Jerusalem.

This was supposed to be the summer where we went to China, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan for a month but cancer fucked that plan up pretty good. Cancer can’t stop us from making an adventure out of it. We just won’t be getting on any planes.

Can her heart take it?

Trish walks confidently out of the ECG
It’s Monday of week three in her chemo cycle, which means Trish feels pretty good.   She does six chemo cycles this summer, each three weeks long.

Week one, where they administer the drugs is always terrible.  Week two is okay usually, but not always.  Week three she feels great.

Today we are at Suburban Hospital and they want to test her heart, because this type of chemotherapy (TAC) weakens the heart muscles.  If she drops 10% below her baseline, or 50% total they have to stop chemotherapy entirely, which would be a big problem.   The procedure is pretty easy.  She lies down and listens to classical music while they listen to her heart flow.

The results are good!  She can continue the treatment.

Schools out for summer!

Last Day of School - Emma finished with 4th and Lily 1st.
It’s the last day of school for the girls, Wednesday 16th, and Trish feels well enough to pick them up inside, which they love. She hasn’t done that in over a month. We pile into the car and head downtown to celebrate.

Emma and Lily did great this year. Lily handled her daily, long bus ride admirably. Next year they will be in 2nd and 5th grades, in adjacent but different schools.

This summer will be different from the past few, obviously. We won’t do any travel. And we also aren’t doing full-day camps.  Many of the camps were booked by the time we had to re-plan the summer. We found them spots for a few weeks in a theater camp, and grandma will keep them for three weeks in August. (Thank you, Grammie.)

Uh, I'm not sure what to make of this.
In between they’ll get almost a month of ‘free’ time. I’m not sure if they will know what to do with themselves.  Both girls insist they want to be free. Who can blame them? Kids are so busy these days. (However, by the second week of free time, they were drawing on themselves -above)

An entertaining Ballet

Eating at the Kennedy Center cafe before the ballet
And we’ll do activities, like the ballet we are driving to at the Kennedy Center. The threatening summer thunderstorm and rush hour traffic slow us to a crawl.  As we pass the Watergate complex, Emma tells Lily a lot about President Nixon. She wrote a report on him in 3rd grade and retells a factual, but sympathetic story of his downfall.  She really likes to see the good in people. We love that about her.

Our intention was to eat on the waterfront in Georgetown, but the traffic forces us to grab food at the Kennedy Center cafe, which is expensive but convenient.

Emma and Lily love to get dressed up, and the Kennedy Center is packed with people, a lot of whom admire the cute girls. They love the show, but it gets a little late for Lily who passes out in my arms.

Creekmores at Kennedy Center for the Ballet
The concert is a regional ballet show, with three regional companies performing a cleverly selected group of dances. The Houston Ballet performed classic choreography to Mozart with a few fun improvements.

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet contrasted the first with 60’s modern styles by Balanchine and Stravinsky, and the North Carolina Dance Theatre danced to a live bluegrass band on-stage. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

The Myth of the Super-Patient

Friends, whose wifes have had breast cancer, have told me that their wives became energized through their cancer treatment; handling medical management, working full time and otherwise leading a ‘normal’ life.

I saw this kind of reaction from Trish in 2005 when she had the cancer the first time. She powered through most of the experience.  I think she thought that being ‘normal’ would help her get through it.

I’d be completely wrong to judge anyone else’s way of dealing with cancer. If it works for you, then do it. But the second time around, Trish and I are learning how wrong the ‘normal life’ approach was for us. Cancer isn’t usual, it requires an unusual response: like Cancerpalooza

Our summer adventure with cancer.

I joked at the beginning of the cancer blogs that Trish and I would have so much fun this summer, we’d make you wish you had cancer too. Have we convinced you yet? If not, stay tuned. Cancerpalooza has only begun.

So yeah, the right response for us is the make this horrible experience an adventure. No, we can’t go to China and sleep overnight on the Great Wall, but we can have a great time here in Washington D.C.  In fact, we’ve always neglected the great stuff we can do locally, and I’m impressed with how much the region has to offer.

The events of Cancerpalooza take Trish’s worried mind off the (potentially lethal) consequences of recurrent stage-two cancer, and are vibrant and exciting enough to send a ‘fuck You’ to the malignant lump.    Not only are we going to kick cancer’s ass, but we are going to have an epic time doing it.

Continued, so read on!

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